What do you do with over 2,000 knitted doughnuts? This was a question faced by The Georgian Theatre Royal in Richmond when the final curtain went down on its pantomime earlier this month.
The doughnuts were knitted by the local community for the production of The Wizard of Oz, which ran for 55 shows over the festive season, but when the show was over the Theatre no longer had a use for them so asked around for any willing takers.
Amongst those to take up the offer were two local nursery schools – Ridgeway Day Nursery in Richmond and Little Learners Nursery Centre in Scorton. Some doughnuts have also been donated to the RSPB reserve at Saltholme, near Stockton-on-Tees, for their knitted display of the Mad Hatter’s tea party.
“Such a lot of effort had gone into producing all of these beautiful knitted doughnuts that we were adamant that they should find new and loving homes,” said Clare Allen, Chief Executive of The Georgian Theatre Royal. “They were originally created as objects of fun so it is wonderful to see them now being enjoyed by both the nursery school children and visitors to the Saltholme nature reserve. It really is the best form of recycling!”
Both nurseries have been able to use the doughnuts in many different ways to support various learning and recreational activities.
“We are delighted to have all these fantastic doughnuts,” said Julie Stanwix, Manager at Ridgeway Day Nursery. “Some are located in the baby room as a sensory experience, and in the pre-school, children have been enjoying matching, counting and sorting colours, as well as incorporating them into role play situations.”
This is the third year that knitted props from the pantomime have found their way to the Saltholme nature reserve. In 2016, hundreds of leaves from Jack and the Beanstalk were used in displays around the site and last year they were added to by apples from Snow White.
Using knitted props – often as missiles to be hurled onto the stage by the audience at a key point in the show – is a long-standing tradition at the Theatre and many people get involved in their production. Most are made by locals but a surprising number are sent from much further afield. For The Wizard of Oz, the furthest batch came all the way from Finland and each one was beautifully crafted in the colours of the rainbow.
“One of the great things about our pantomime is that it involves the whole community,” said Clare Allen. “Indeed, as soon as we announced the title of this year’s production, which is The Sleeping Beauty, our regular knitters have begun to ask what they will be making. We will, of course, let people know as soon as possible!” she added.
Tickets go on sale on Thursday 1 February for The Sleeping Beauty, which runs from Friday 7 December 2018 until Sunday 13 January 2019. Tickets from £8 to £22 are available from the Box Office on 01748 825252 or via the online booking service at www.georgiantheatreroyal.co.uk
PHOTO: Children in the baby room at Ridgway Day Nursery play with the pantomime knitted doughnuts.